Leveraging Your Reputation: Time for an e-mail review?

Tom Ciesielka is president of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has about 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Association CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Even though there are now a lot more ways to communicate other than e-mail, it is still frequently used, especially professionally. However, it seems that people are not paying as much attention to how their e-mails can help their reputation because the trend is to emphasize the importance of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about how your e-mail can be more effective, here are a few things to consider:

Enhance your signature. Your signature probably includes your name, firm, and contact information, in addition to a legal disclaimer or privacy notice. You can add one more line that could be a link to an article that you wrote or was featured in, or a link to something else that you want to share. You might have just written a book or have an upcoming speaking engagement. Remember to share whatever you’ve done or are going to do, and keep the language simple so that your recipient doesn’t feel like your signature is a commercial.

Lighten the graphics. I know people who take a lot of time to create beautiful e-mails that resemble a brochure more than a piece of electronic communication, but the problem is that your audience can view your e-mail on various kinds of monitors, browsers, and phones. Make sure that your e-mail is simple enough for people to view and open. Sometimes if there are too many graphics, your message can go to someone’s junk mail, or may simply not be legible. It can also take a while to load if it is too complex.

Give ways to share. If you’re sending an e-mail that you would like someone to pass along, such as a promotional e-mail about a seminar that you’re organizing, then include ways for the recipient to share it with other people. Also remember to write the e-mail so that anyone would be able to understand it, instead of making it too customized to just one person. People who forward emails to others often don’t delete your personal message to them, so keep such communication short, yet friendly.

And here’s an obvious tip: Proofread your e-mail to ensure it doesn’t have mistakes and can’t be misunderstood. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had to smooth over misunderstandings after I hit the “send” button too quickly before realizing that I wasn’t clear, or had embarrassing errors.

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